Can we trade?

Can we trade our Mayor for Councillor Sue Uteck?

Taxes are going to dictate where people are going to live. There’s no tax holiday, there’s no incentive to build in the downtown where it’s the most expensive per square foot,” she said Thursday. [more]

Imagine that. Someone who has figured out that if you want people to build and buy houses in Wolfville rather than the surrounding farmland you lower taxes in the target area. Duh.

While urban areas are much more expensive for developers and residents, they’re more cost-effective for the municipality.

Wolfville could start by removing the Deed Transfer tax.

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5 responses to “Can we trade?

  1. She does seem like a sensible councilor! Are you recognizing the significant advantage then, of increased density? I think a fair taxing system might be for municipalities to charge for the true (life cycle) cost of servicing. These costs are understandably less on urban grid streets where density is high and land uses are mixed. Garbage can be picked up faster and with fewer trucks, one km of street can be home to 100 people instead of 10. The savings are really impressive, and this type of development also reduces pollution and encourages sustainable transportation options like walking, biking, and transit.

    • Are you saying it is easier to collect waste from a large apartment building than from one residence? Not really. If the garbage man had to go to each of those apartments,up several stories and back again, to collect waste, either separated or not, there would be no saving of either time or cost ( you might save on gas but pay more in salary time). What the municipality does is download the task (and cost) onto the Apt residents themselves and the landlords; you force them to do the collecting work for you so that you have the appearance of speed and less cost. The cost is still there but carried by someone else, and this adds to the inconvenience and unattractiveness of high density living from the resident’s point of view. Road work? Perhaps fewer streets to pave but higher traffic on the roads, more wear and tear on them, more cost (traffic lights etc) . The pie in the sky idea of no car, that walking and a bicycle is enough? Fantasy. Imagine having two kids and having to get one of them to hockey and the other to dance class. And how many buses do you know that have rear facing car seats for infants? This kind of thinking is urban thinking not small town thinking.
      What I am saying is that people make choices based on what they like and what they can afford. If you want to encourage people to live in one area over another it isn’t wise to make your target area expensive and/or unappealing. High taxes are not attractive. Neither is very high density. Ask any young family with small children (and perhaps a pet) where they would prefer to live – in an apartment or a house with a yard? Why do you think people move out of the city into the country? The market will out. It is the power of the people.

  2. I think you’re right, higher density living is not for everyone. But when we design it well, it’s not difficult to have tightly knit cluster housing and lots of preserved open space for the dogs and the kiddies to run around in.

    The wear and tear on urban streets would likely be less due to higher rates of transit use, or walking/biking. Again, not everyone is expected to ride a bike everywhere they go, but it’s about providing choices. We shouldn’t have to burn a gallon of gas to buy a gallon of milk. If you’re taking your kids to Grandma’s, then pile the family into the car. Generally, a lot of our trips are short, and can be done on foot or by bike more easily than we care to accept. Providing good sidewalks, bike lanes and transit systems is easier when density isn’t really low. These types of services cost everyone less as density increases.

    High-rise apartment buildings are not what’s appropriate for Wolfville, but smaller lot sizes, allowing accessory units, encouraging townhouses etc can make a big difference in the servicing costs. Have a read through this document – I found it helpful in understanding the point of view of planners. http://smartgrowth.bc.ca/Portals/0/Downloads/SmartGrowthPrimer.pdf.zip

    You’re right though, people need encouragement to move to an urban core, so I’m on board with a lower tax rate in downtown Halifax and maybe a similar scenario here in Wolfville/Kentville/village centers.

    • After reading reading section 1 of this 10Mbyte “smart growth” document, I was reminded that growth might not be so smart once it gets beyond a certain point.

      The document presents the usual collection of ideas that residents might use or ignore according to their interests/needs/means. This place has its history…

  3. I will read the document but I doubt I will swallow the point of view of planners. I am more interested in the point of view of residents. Planners, in my experience, plan for other people and then live elsewhere, where they choose to live, not in their “planned” neighbourhood. Our CAO is a prime example.